Packaging-free collective and grocery store Ouni opened in rue Glesener in December 2016
Luxembourg's first packaging-free grocery store, Ouni, turns one this week. Co-founder Rébecca Maroko looks back at what has been achieved and ahead to future plans to enable online orders and home deliveries.
Jess Bauldry: Congratulations to Ouni for bringing packaging free goods to Luxembourg for the past year. How does it feel to have gotten this far?
Rébecca Maroko: In reality, one quickly becomes accustomed to good things: we have the impression that packaging-free shopping at OUNI has always existed. For all the customers and members of the cooperative, it is always a greater pleasure when we enter the store, discover that our management team has found new products to offer, exchange friendly words with the team, who became very quickly friends, in a warm and cozy atmosphere. We therefore feel a great fulfillment and satisfaction has come out of the frustration that we felt from doing our shopping in other conditions before Ouni opened.
What were the main challenges Ouni faced during its first year?
The biggest challenge was to stabilise the store management team. Unfortunately, the management team we planned before the opening did not work and we managed to set up a stable management team only in May. Thus, for four months, we had difficulty meeting the expectations of clients and members with an interim management and limited resources. This period was also very intensive for the members of the board of directors.
Fortunately, since May, the management team works very well and is composed of Amélie, manager, and Delphine and Chloe, who are helped Saturdays by Elodie. Fortunately, the customers and members did not shun us and remained faithful despite the first four difficult months. Moreover, Amélie is expecting a baby and we are looking for a replacement manager from March onwards for 11 months. We are very happy for her and assure you that the continuity of management will stay at a high level. And yes, the challenge will always be to cope with the unexpected.
Photo: Ouni. Luxembourg environment minister Carole Dieschbourg speaks at the shop inauguration in December 2016
What was the most important thing you learned during the first year?
During this first year, we realised that the most important and greatest strength is the community that supports Ouni, consisting of shareholders, simple members, customers and corporate partners who are always looking for ways to introduce zero waste solutions to employees. You have no idea the lengths these people go to to help us: shareholders spend two hours per month and take time off work to participate in Ouni events, knit cushions for the store, cross the country to recover donated furniture and bring them to the store.
The commitment of everyone shows that there is a growing demand to engage in projects that make sense and have a positive impact on the environment and the society. Ouni is a cooperative project created for and by society.
What are Ouni's future plans?
After a few months of “business as usual”, during which we plan to increase our clientèle and stabilise our offer, we will work to develop solutions to allow as many people as possible to shop in bulk at Ouni (online orders, delivery) More information to come later!
What festivities are planned for the one-year anniversary?
First of all, Christmas is often a period during which a lot of waste is generated, between wrapping paper, unwanted gifts, and food waste of endless meals. So we worked hard to be able to offer “zero waste gifts”: a lot of gift ideas to introduce your friends and family to waste reduction. OUNI's anniversary will be an opportunity to showcase these products. Free creative workshops are organised on Saturday, to introduce young and old to zero waste. Finally, we have of course planned to pamper customers with special offers and a limited edition Ouni shopping bag made in Luxembourg and given to customers when they spend €50 or more. Please also note our new schedules—we are now open on Saturdays until 8pm. I hope to see you all there!